Saturday, 16 March 2013

RSUST Defies ASSU Strike, Matriculates 3,817 Students... Alleges ASSU Has Declared Media War Against the University

Claims 95% of Lectures Abandon Strike
…RSUST Is Deceiving The Public- ASSU Chairman
Prof. Fakae
by Friday Agi

Hope was rekindled during the week in the determination of premier Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) Port Harcourt to accomplish its mission of offering men and women unique educational opportunity and experience for the pursuit of learning in the relevant branches of knowledge, as it opened its gates for another 3,817 students for the 2012/2013 academic session at a matriculation ceremony, defying the seven months old strike  declared by its local branch of  Academic Staff  Union of Universities (ASSU) rocking the ivory tower.
Addressing the lucky matriculants at the historic 31st ceremony which held at the convocation arena of the institution, the embattled vice chancellor of the institution, Prof. Barineme Fakae, congratulated the new entrants for being chosen by the authorities of the university and urged them to be hard working and of good behavior.
Fakae charged them to shun cultism and other criminal tendencies capable of ruining their academic pursuit in the university. He thanked the governor and visitor to the institution, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, for creating conducive atmosphere for research, teaching and learning activities in the university. Click on read more below to continue reading...
Fakae use the opportunity to call on the companies operating in the state, and public spirited individuals to support the institution by funding research and teaching activities.
The matriculation ceremony which was held on Wednesday, 13th, was contrary to speculations that the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the Felix Igwe-led ASSU, RSUST chapter had paralysed academic activities in the institution.
The authorities of the university had claimed that 95% of members of the RSUST chapter of the ASSU have resumed academic work in spite of the ongoing strike by the lectures.
The Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr. Desmond Wosu, gave this indication in Port Harcourt recently while interacting with newsmen. He maintained that ASSU had declared media war against the university.
He alleged that the union had resorted to portraying the university in a negative manner so as to undermine its credibility.
Wosu was reacting to a call by the leaders of ASSU to set-up a panel of inquiry to establish the legality of the reappointment of Prof. Barineme Fakae as vice-chancellor.
He said the call by ASSU was regrettable, especially as Governor Chibuike Amaechi had advised the union to seek court redress, if it felt that the reappointment exercise lacked transparency.  
“I think what the national leadership of ASSU should do it if they want legal interpretation of what Governor Amaechi has done is to go to a competent court of jurisdiction, instead of blackmail and campaign against Amaechi and the management of the university,” Wosu said.
Continuing, he said, “For ASSU to continue to blackmail us and wage media war against this university is unfortunate, because more than 95 percent of academic staff have come back to work after realising that it was unnecessary for them to have embarked on the strike in the first place.
We appeal to ASSU to sheath their swords and prevail on its members who are out there to come back to work because Amaechi performed his civic responsibility of appointing a vice-chancellor for this university,” he said.
Wosu said the university would not be distracted by the union and as such, would continue to run its academic programmes in the interest of the people.
Reacting, the Chairman of the university branch of ASSU, Dr Felix Igwe, said the union opted for a judicial commission for inquiry because of its transparency and speed in dispensation of justice.
He said that the university management was afraid of being confronted with facts, and as such, opted to deceive the public by carrying propaganda against the union.
“We are a trade union and so, if we are protesting for something, it is for us to choose which method we are going to use to call attention to our protest. We are protesting against what they (university management) did, and they are now asking us to use their own method of finding solution to what we are protesting against,” Igwe answered.
“There is a legal way and also the trade union was of doing things; court alone is not the only solution to solving problems that have to do with industrial dispute as it is.
In 2008, when the visitor (Amaechi) imposed the vice chancellor, Fakae on us by making him a substantive vice chancellor after he had served for nine months as acting VC, we protested and the visitor said the union could go to court. 
The visitor said that if you (ASSU) go to court, the case will be in court until I (Amaechi) finish my tenure and the vice-chancellor finishes his tenure.
So ASSU went to the Federal High Court and the issue suffered 22 different adjournments, and so it’s not something that anybody can exploit. ASSU decides the best method of attending to its issues whenever the need arises,” Igwe finished.
Igwe also said that the university management was deceiving the public when it claimed that 95 percent of striking lectures had resumed academic activities.
According to him, the university is contradicting itself, as the same university which is claiming that lecturers have resumed work is asking the same lecturers to come back to work.
Early this month, the National President of ASSU, Dr. Nasir Issa Fagge while speaking at Bayero University, Kano had picked on Fakae and his reappointment as VC of the RSUST when he declared, “Contrary to Governor Amaechi’s promise to our members and other staffers at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, the visitor allegedly connived with the pro-chancellor and chairman of council to reappoint Prof. Fakae initially as Acting Vice Chancellor and subsequently confirmed him as substantive in utter violation of the laid down procedures.”
ASSU maintained that with the undeserved appointment and apparent support in high places, Fakae has continued to operate like an emperor, “He stops workers salary at will. He disregards court orders and unleashes fully armed agents after academics at lawful gatherings on the campus as if they are common criminals,” Issa Fagge said.
It would be recalled that the indefinite strike action declared by the Felix Igwe-led local chapter of ASSU since August 13, 2012, following Fakae’s reappointment as vice chancellor, has continued to hang on the institution’s neck like and albatross despite pleas by prominent citizens.

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